Players say NHL lockout can be avoided
NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr, centre, is joined by players Kevin Westgath, right, and George Parros after meeting with NHL officials, in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP / Mary Altaffer)
Published Thursday, September 13, 2012 1:39PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:13PM EDT
The head of the National Hockey League Players' Association says a lockout can be avoided.
But Donald Fehr says that's up to the league.
"The players want to find a way to make an agreement. They want to negotiate until we do," Fehr told a news conference Thursday.
Commissioner Gary Bettman was slated to hold a news conference later in the day.
Fehr said the players made large concessions in bargaining last time. Since then, league revenue has risen dramatically.
He asked whether it was fair or equitable that the owners want more concessions.
Fehr says the players have made a responsible proposal, offering what he calls "shared sacrifice."
Under the league offer, the players' share would be reduced "only 17.5 per cent," said Fehr.
"What would your reaction be in similar circumstances?" Fehr said.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires Saturday at midnight.
The union boss was flanked by a line of players including Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara, Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist.
The NHLPA boss said more than 280 players were in New York to follow the labour situation.
The two sides exchanged new proposals Wednesday and Fehr said there were no developments since then.
The last lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.
Owners asked players to cut their share of hockey-related revenue during a six-year proposal. Current industry revenue is pegged at US$3.3 billion annually.
Initially, owners sought to drop the percentage of that given to players to 43 per cent from the current 57 per cent. They have since amended that to a six-year proposal that starts at 49 per cent and drops to 47 per cent.
The NHLPA is offering a package that starts at 54.3 per cent and ends at 52.7 per cent.
Both sides huddled before emerging Thursday afternoon.
Fehr met with some 300 players Wednesday night while Bettman was slated to gather with the league's board of governors Thursday afternoon.